Jack C. Anderson, Jr., 41, dock and tug owner, saved Larry E. Haas, 22, assistant engineer, and 30 others from an impending explosion, Anchorage, Alaska, October 19, 1964. The tankers Sirrah and Santa Maria, each carrying millions of gallons of liquid fuels, collided in Knik Arm of Cook Inlet a mile from shore. Two tugboats then were alongside the Sirrah. Aviation gasoline escaping through a hole torn in the Santa Maria caught fire and ignited her stern and the bows of the Sirrah and one of the tugboats, aboard which were Anderson and his wife Lois. Flames along one side of the Sirrah rose 75 feet into the air for 140 feet from the bow. Anderson’s wife took over the controls while he put out the flames on their boat. To aid the crewmen of both tankers, Anderson by radio told his 17-year-old son John, who was piloting the other tugboat, to standby the Sirrah while he and his wife went after the Santa Maria, which was drifting with the tide and leaving a wide trail of flames 30 feet high. John positioned his boat against the Sirrah at the opposite side from the flames. Crewmen, fearing an explosion, put a ladder over the side and descended it to the tugboat, as did Joseph F. Byrnes, an agricultural inspector. The tanker’s captain then called to them that the fire was under control. All but Byrnes returned to the Sirrah. John started after the other vessel, which Anderson and his wife by then had overtaken. Its stern for 175 feet forward was engulfed in flames 80 feet high. The captain gave orders to abandon ship. Anderson positioned his tugboat alongside the burning tanker. The nearest flames were those burning on the water and being carried toward the tugboat. By manipulation of the boat’s propellers, Anderson kept the water-borne flame’s from igniting the tugboat, although its paint became charred. Larry E. Haas and 30 other crewmen of the Santa Maria jumped down onto the tugboat’s deck, where Anderson told them to move into the deckhouse for protection against a possible explosion of the tanker. The captain and the rest of the crew launched a lifeboat. It was 90 feet from the tanker when John arrived. He proceeded to the lifeboat, and the men transferred to his tugboat. As both tugboats moved quickly away from the tanker it was discovered that one crewman was unaccounted for John piloted his boat in a complete circuit of the Santa Maria, coming within 200 feet of the flames on the water, but could not find the missing man. The tugboats took the men to shore. The fire on the Santa Maria was not extinguished until the next day.
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